I did some work to my Strat- now she's a killer!

Sparky6string

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,054
Around a decade ago I picked up a two tone sunburst MIJ Fernandes LE-2 off Ebay for the paltry sum of $120 with money I received from selling my 1987 American Standard strat which I never really bonded with. It needed some elbow grease at the time and I vowed to treat it the way it deserved when I had the time/money. Just recently I made good on that promise and did a couple of things to it, with more coming.

The biggest change I made was I replaced the wiring with an excellent harness I bought from TGP's own Tonebender. I got the one with the bells and whistles- has the Vitamin Qs and everything. I hadn't realized how bad the original wiring had gotten but when I pulled it out the jack only had one wire connected, and the new harness made the singles sound like humbuckers as far as extra noise is concerned. While in there I also installed a SD Little 59. I wasn't sure it was the right pickup since it gets mixed reviews but I loved the idea so bought it new a couple years ago. I can say I dig it and it is doing exactly what I was hoping it would.

The Strat and I have some issues, and I was hoping the Little 59 would give me a go-to bridge tone that was familiar to me. I actually wasn't looking for a PAF type sound I was hoping for more of a Tele type cutting personality and I feel it is doing that. I didn't need the tone to be precisely accurate, I just needed it to work along the same philosophy. Love this thing, and I think it would be awesome in the bridge for a single pickup type guitar.

I recently also bought Dan Elerwine's book on guitar repair/upkeep, I'm good with my hands and don't trust others to do what I want done so I'll be doing most of the rest of the work my guitars need I figure. This one needs fret leveling, dressing and polishing, some adjustment to the whammy and it's done. I stuck with the stock middle and neck pickups even though they're ceramic because they sound good, especially with the new harness, and the SD is ceramic too so what the hey.

BTW after doing the mods I have done I realized this guitar is much finer than I had thought. It seems it takes well to this sort of effort because the more it gets the better I understand it to be. Just the other day I went to some guitar stores I hadn't visited before, one was to the gills with nice axes like AVRIs, Nashs etc. I realized my little Fernandes was not a lesser guitar, and with the new changes I preferred it. Awesome.
 

bluesoul

Member
Messages
4,646
Around a decade ago I picked up a two tone sunburst MIJ Fernandes LE-2 off Ebay for the paltry sum of $120 with money I received from selling my 1987 American Standard strat which I never really bonded with. It needed some elbow grease at the time and I vowed to treat it the way it deserved when I had the time/money. Just recently I made good on that promise and did a couple of things to it, with more coming.

The biggest change I made was I replaced the wiring with an excellent harness I bought from TGP's own Tonebender. I got the one with the bells and whistles- has the Vitamin Qs and everything. I hadn't realized how bad the original wiring had gotten but when I pulled it out the jack only had one wire connected, and the new harness made the singles sound like humbuckers as far as extra noise is concerned. While in there I also installed a SD Little 59. I wasn't sure it was the right pickup since it gets mixed reviews but I loved the idea so bought it new a couple years ago. I can say I dig it and it is doing exactly what I was hoping it would.

The Strat and I have some issues, and I was hoping the Little 59 would give me a go-to bridge tone that was familiar to me. I actually wasn't looking for a PAF type sound I was hoping for more of a Tele type cutting personality and I feel it is doing that. I didn't need the tone to be precisely accurate, I just needed it to work along the same philosophy. Love this thing, and I think it would be awesome in the bridge for a single pickup type guitar.

I recently also bought Dan Elerwine's book on guitar repair/upkeep, I'm good with my hands and don't trust others to do what I want done so I'll be doing most of the rest of the work my guitars need I figure. This one needs fret leveling, dressing and polishing, some adjustment to the whammy and it's done. I stuck with the stock middle and neck pickups even though they're ceramic because they sound good, especially with the new harness, and the SD is ceramic too so what the hey.

BTW after doing the mods I have done I realized this guitar is much finer than I had thought. It seems it takes well to this sort of effort because the more it gets the better I understand it to be. Just the other day I went to some guitar stores I hadn't visited before, one was to the gills with nice axes like AVRIs, Nashs etc. I realized my little Fernandes was not a lesser guitar, and with the new changes I preferred it. Awesome.

I think the biggest thing you touched on is...doing things yourself. For a small investment to have that tools you need....leveling and fret dressing can easily be done by you! Setting things up to your liking is better than someone else guessing what works for you!
 
Messages
350
I just turned my old unusable aria pro ii into a dream guitar, did all the work myself, it's not only super fun but saves a lot of money. It had alder body and maple neck, so the woods were set, I changed the pots, pickup switch, jack, the wiring of course, pickups, a bit of the hardware, sanded all the paint and laquer, adjusted the shape of the body and the neck a little, made it satin finished, a la suhr satin. I will consider scalloping it in the future. So keep doing it, you never know, many people have diamonds hidden just waiting to be faceted.
 

Sparky6string

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,054
^^Agreed. That Aria Pro is an excellent guitar for this type of thing. The Japanese really were serious about these guitars man- I mean the tinting is excellent and everything. The devil is in the details I guess. I've always been one to appreciate what a guitar brings stock but maybe after I had enough experience to really know myself I feel better off making the little changes that help them fit in my life best.
 
Messages
350
^^Agreed. That Aria Pro is an excellent guitar for this type of thing. The Japanese really were serious about these guitars man- I mean the tinting is excellent and everything. The devil is in the details I guess. I've always been one to appreciate what a guitar brings stock but maybe after I had enough experience to really know myself I feel better off making the little changes that help them fit in my life best.
I mean, If a guitar is expensive I expect it to be excellent, but I see no problem at all on finding good deals with cheap, but quality guitars, and messing around with them, it's the closest thing to a custom shop I will have in a while lol
 

megawzrd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,422
Grats OP. MIJ Fernandes are fine axes. Most guitars with the right pickups and fret level/dress etc can keep pace with just about any of the big boys.

My best guitars range from $80-600. I have had guitars in the 2500 range. Price does not directly reflect quality or tone. If it sounds good, take care of it setup wise and play the hell out of it.

+1 on pics
 

T Dizz

Member
Messages
21,666
I'd like to see this guitar also. :munch

I'm a guy who works on his own guitars so I feel where the OP is coming from. Some of my best players have been cheapies with upgrades and a proper setup
 

Sparky6string

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,054

+1 on pics
I'd like to see this guitar also. :munch

Sorry for the tardiness. All I had was a camcorder so that's what I used. Tried to capture the neck tint and extremely tight neck pocket. I can't stop playing this guitar now, this after a lifetime of Strat issues.


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blueaxe

Member
Messages
39
Hello, nice topic. I have an old Fender Stratocaster (about year 1980). I love it but I thing that she would need some refresh! switches and volume control are noisy, and wiring could be improved too. Can you give me some advices? Where to start? Where to find info on what to do without doing disaster? I'm not a newbie in soldering (always worked in electronic field).

Sorry but my English is a little poor, what do you mean with Tonebender? Have you changed all wiring? or what else?

thanks in advance
 
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Sparky6string

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,054
Hello, nice topic. I have an old Fender Stratocaster (about year 1980). I love it but I thing that she would need some refresh! switches and volume control are noisy, and wiring could be improved too. Can you give me some advices? Where to start? Where to find info on what to do without doing disaster? I'm not a newbie in soldering (always worked in electronic field).

Sorry but my English is a little poor, what do you mean with Tonebender? Have you changed all wiring? or what else?

thanks in advance

Right a Fender Standard Strat is another great guitar for this type of treatment. Tonebender is a forum member that makes great wiring harnesses. He advertises in the Emporium here at TGP in the "Music Gear Parts and Accessories" section. There are other sources for this type of work too but I like to support our forumites when I can, plus Tonebender's work is excellent. That change was huge for my guitar, perhaps it could help yours too.

The best advice I can give to you is to know yourself: get to understand your preferences in tone, setup etc. One thing is to identify what type of Strat pickups you like- do you like vintage type or more rocking pickups? Humbuckers or single coils? Seems like there are a lot of great winders out there so pick one and go with it once you're sure, if you feel it's necessary that is. Sounds like you're good with your hands so a copy of the book I bought would be an excellent idea. It's called "Guitar Player Repair Guide" by Dan Erlewine. I have the 3rd edition and it's signed by Dan (which fits right into my autographed book collection- yes I'm a nerd).

Some tools from Stew Mac or similar vendor can go a long way. I plan to buy whatever I need so that I can continue to do the work I need done. Your question actually deserves it's own thread so more experienced guys can advise you, and a search of previous Strat renovations might help also. Good Luck!
 




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